Books I’ve Read: First You Have to Row a Little Boat

For some reason, I have recently started reading ‘meaning of life’ type of books and came across this one in a thrift store. The book landed on the best sellers list and once you read it you can easily see why.

First You Have to Row a Little Boat, by Richard Bode

The book starts off in a peaceful place — Bode’s youth and his overwhelming desire to own a sailboat.  You quickly learn that Bode, who does not try to evoke self-pity, has lost both of his parents. After their death he first lives with his grandparents, but he is eventually raised by an aunt and uncle when his grandmother becomes too ill to care for him.

You, the reader, follow along this quick trip through his childhood and beyond, by meeting the characters that teach Bode how to live. They do not sermonize or preach, instead offer small bits of wisdom along the way that Bode eventually latches onto as life lessons. The boat, although real, is a metaphor for his life, as he learns how to navigate through good and bad weather, how to control the wind and and figures out his destination.

Regardless of where you are in your life, at least one of the chapters will resonate with you. After his first boating accident on his sloop (he hit a log puncturing a hole in the vessel), he is relunctant to go sailing again.

I stood on the shore, looking at my sloop thinking about all the terrible things that might happen to me, and for a while I did not want to leave the harbor. For the truth is to sail, to even contemplate sailing, calls for a fundamental faith in one’s self, at that moment I was only aware of the barriers between myself and my destination..

Of course, he will go back out. He will learn and he will master seamanship. Eventually he win even place in a sailing race.

Even though I know little (nothing) about boating or sailing, Bode writes in a way I didn’t need to, giving just enough information about boating to explain what I needed to know. Although, he handles some pretty ‘heavy’ stuff for such a short book, you walk away with an appreciation that life does not have to be perfect, it just has to be lived.

And just like Bode as a young boy, you realize have to stop worrying about what might be and sail.

Categories: Books I have read, Middle age | Tags: ,

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